homemade cheese enchiladas on a plate

Like a little black dress, the recipe for Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce is something you should keep in your back pocket at all times. It’s simple, timeless, and will never let you down. Plus, file the homemade red enchilada sauce smothering every nook and cranny of the cheese enchilada under: SPOON DRINK WORTHY!

Ahem. 

That is to say I double pinky promise you’ll never buy canned enchilada sauce again once you get a taste of my homemade recipe, which is made from 100% pantry staples in under 10 minutes. GAHHH, so good!

Cheese Enchiladas with homemade Red Sauce in a casserole dish

Cheese Enchiladas as an Easy Dinner Recipe

All you need to make homemade cheese enchiladas is three ingredients: corn tortillas, shredded Mexican cheese blend, and the aforementioned red enchilada sauce. Roll the tortillas around a sprinkling of cheese, line them up in a casserole dish, spread with sauce, then bake. BOOM! Dinner’s done.

How to Make Red Enchilada Sauce from Scratch

To make homemade red enchilada sauce, all you have to do is saute flour (I use gluten free flour) and herbs and spices including chili powder, cumin, and oregano in a little bit of vegetable oil before stirring in tomato paste which adds body and depth of flavor. Chicken broth is whisked in then simmered until the sauce is thick and luscious.

It’s INCREDIBLE!

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Fork taking a bit of cheese enchiladas

Tips for Making This Recipe

  1. What kind of cheese? I typically use a Mexican Cheese blend including Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Asadero, and Queso Quesadilla cheeses for my cheese enchiladas. I have also made these enchiladas with a Oaxaca and Asadero cheese blend which is fantastic.
  2. What kind of tortillas? Enchiladas are typically made with white corn tortillas though if you prefer flour tortillas (which are not gluten free, FYI) then you should go for it. I use Mission’s “super soft” line of GF white corn tortillas which are nice and pliable.
  3. Hot or not? I use mild chili powder in the red enchilada sauce to keep the spice level at a 2-3 on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being super spicy. Feel free to use hot chili powder or add a pinch of cayenne pepper to spice things up.

Who’s ready to dig into a plate of this deliciousness?!

Inside of a cheese enchilada

Step 1: Make the Red Enchilada Sauce

Start the red sauce by heating vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add gluten-free flour (or all-purpose flour though dish will not be GF if using AP flour) then whisk slowly and constantly for a minute. Next add chili powder, onion powder, dried oregano, salt, garlic powder, and cumin then whisk until the spices are very fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Homemade red enchilada sauce in a pan

Add tomato paste then whisk to combine, and then slowly stream in chicken broth while whisking to create a smooth sauce. Turn the heat up slightly to bring to a bubble, then turn back down to medium and simmer until the sauce has slightly thickened, 3-4 minutes, stirring often.

You can make the red enchilada sauce several days ahead of time – just warm it back up in the microwave or in a saucepan before using.

Homemade red enchilada sauce in a pan

Step 2: Assemble the Cheese Enchiladas

Spread 1/2 cup red sauce into the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish then sprinkle Mexican cheese blend into the center of a corn tortilla and roll snugly. Place it seam side down into the baking dish then continue until the dish has been filled up. You should end up with 14-16 enchiladas.

shredded cheese in a tortilla

How Do You Roll Enchiladas without Breaking The Tortillas?

  • The short answer is: you can’t. Or at least you can’t without either lightly frying the tortillas first, and/or dipping each tortilla in red sauce before filling which, in my opinion, takes a lot of time and creates a huge mess.
  • My best tip for keeping the corn tortillas from breaking or cracking is to wrap several tortillas in a damp paper towel then microwave for 15-20 seconds before filling and rolling.

As you can see, there’s still a little bit of cracking even after warming (and again, I use Mission’s “super soft” tortillas) but that’s OK! You’ll never know in the final dish because the whole thing is generously covered in red sauce next. Be sure that each tortilla is completely covered with sauce, as any uncovered portions of tortilla will end up tough and hard after baking.

red sauce covering cheese enchiladas

Step 3: Cover and Bake the Enchiladas

Last step is to sprinkle more shredded cheese on top of the enchiladas then cover with nonstick sprayed foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Unbaked cheese enchiladas in a casserole dish

Dish the enchiladas up then DIG IN! I hope you love these incredible, comforting, totally tasty Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce – enjoy!

What to Serve with Enchiladas

Overhead photo of a baking dish of Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce

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Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce

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Description

Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce is a simple yet outstanding dinner recipe for the whole family! Easy, gluten free, and meatless too.

Ingredients

serves 4-6

  • 14-16 white corn tortillas (I use Mission GF Super Soft Tortillas)
  • 16oz shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • For the Red Enchilada Sauce:
    • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 2 Tablespoons gluten-free flour OR all-purpose flour (dish will not be GF if using AP flour)
    • 3 Tablespoons chili powder (see notes)
    • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
    • 1/4 cup tomato paste
    • 2 cups chicken broth

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees then spray a 9x13" baking dish, or two smaller casserole dishes, with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. For the Red Enchilada Sauce: Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat then add flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute. Add seasonings - chili powder through cumin - then whisk until the spices are toasted and very fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste then whisk until combined, and then slowly stream in chicken broth while whisking to create a smooth sauce. Turn heat up to medium-high then simmer until sauce has thickened, 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Cool slightly - can be made up to several days ahead of time. Warm before using.
  3. Assembly: Spread 1/2 cup enchilada sauce into the bottom of the baking dish then reserve 1 cup shredded cheese and set aside. Place 1 tortilla on a plate or cutting board then add 1/4 cup shredded cheese into the center and roll snugly. Place seam-side down into the baking dish then continue until the dish has been filled.
  4. Spoon enchilada sauce over the tops of the tortillas ensuring they are completely covered - uncovered spots will come out tough and hard - then sprinkle reserved cheese on top.
  5. Cover baking dish with nonstick sprayed foil then bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and sauce is hot and bubbly. Let enchiladas rest for 5 minutes then serve.

Notes

  • I use mild chili powder to keep this on the low end of the heat scale - maybe 2-3 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being mega spicy. Use regular or hot chili powder to spice things up!

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

Video

Photo collage of cheese enchiladas